Film Programs In America
Areas of Study
The United States is known internationally for its film industry. From Hollywood blockbusters to groundbreaking documentaries and animated shorts, the opportunities for filmmakers in this country are enormous&but also extremely competitive. It takes more than creativity and imagination to make it big in film: it also takes a solid education. From limited-enrollment, competitive bachelor's degrees to community and career college diplomas and certificates, it's important to get the facts on your choices before you jump in.
First, know that there are different kinds of school offering film degrees. You can attend a university or 4-year college with film programs, or a stand-alone specialty film institute. Universities and 4-year colleges (which may be public, private, faith-affiliated or secular) most commonly offer Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees in film. Within these there are a multitude of major and concentration options, such as film and media arts, production, directing, screenwriting, animation, cinema studies, documentary filmmaking and more. The Bachelor of Science (BS) option provides a more technical grounding for specializations like pre- and post-production, recording arts/sound mixing, digital video, and archiving and preservation. BS programs in film usually share courses with BA programs. Some film institutes also offer bachelor's programs in association with a partner university, or you may be able to transfer credit through articulation agreements. Undergraduate degrees can be terminal degrees that get you ready to find a job, or can be the basis for going on to graduate studies in film.
Film is a multidisciplinary field, so finding the right program might take some snooping on your part. Universities and colleges may have Schools, Colleges or Departments of Film, or have their film programs combined with theatre or other performing arts, communication or media arts departments (such as sound recording, TV, music video, etc.).
Stand-alone film institutes, community colleges and career colleges generally offer shorter, more focused film credentials. For instance, you can take a 2-year Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Applied Arts (AAS), or Associate of Science (AS) degree in most of the concentrations mentioned above. Diplomas and certificates--which range in length from 12 weeks to 2 years--generally prepare students for particular areas of the film industry, and may cover all kinds of filmmaking skills like lighting, camera, composition, production techniques and everything from proposals and budgeting to scripting, directing, and the final editing.
At all levels, film school programs strive to provide intensive, hands-on experience which gives students the opportunity to develop their creative skills. Students will usually graduate with a professional portfolio of work in a variety of formats (such as Super-8, 16mm, digital video, 3D etc.), which can be used for landing your first job or career position. As well, most film schools and programs at all levels have extensive industry contacts, so you won't just be left on your own to break into the business.
No matter where you want to be--in the director's chair or in the editing room--there are lots of educational options at film schools in the US to get you closer to your dream!
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